THE RETURN OF THE GIANT KILLER – part one.
THE RETURN OF THE GIANT KILLER – part one
by Jason Meuller
Jason Meuller: What are some of the major titles you’ve won?
Danny Padilla: When I was very young?
DP: Well, for the local area I was the youngest guy to ever win Mr. Rochester, which is the town we’re in right now. I was only 18 years old at the time and still in high school. Some of the major titles I’ve held in the IFBB include Mr. America, Mr. USA, Mr. Universe, and I placed top 5 in the Olympia at least 5 times.
JM: What year did you win the Universe?
DP: I won the Universe in 1977 and I won Mr. America in 1977. Frank Zane and myself are the only two bodybuilders ever to win both titles in the same year.
JM: Recently, you were supposed to compete in the Masters Olympia, I heard you got in great shape, but you didn’t show up. What happened?
DP: Well, basically I guess that when you’ve been eating low carbs for too long you get a little mean and, in that state of mind, I decided that I didn’t want to pay for a pro card. I felt that because I’d been a pro for so long and there’s only one Masters Olympia, the guys involved shouldn’t have to pay for a pro card. So, we wound up in a minor dispute over the issue. Eventually I broke down and paid the $175 but I never received an answer as to whether I was in or not. I made a couple of phone calls but still never received an answer, so I decided to drop out.
JM: Then there was also an issue of the show being moved up 7 days at the last minute, correct?
DP: They changed the show date three times. It was supposed to be on the 14th, then on the 10th, and it finally ended up on the 3rd. I was so involved with my training, I never took 2 minutes to check the date on the computer. Even in the magazines, they had printed the August 10th date. I went into the gym and some guy is telling me that I only have a week and a half left, and here I was gearing my diet for the August 10th show date. Obviously I have to change the regimen immediately, I had to get more extreme with my diet, do more aerobics; I wanted to look as freaky as possible . . . to be as big and as cut as I possible could. I still was in tremendous shape but then the issue of the pro card came up.
JM: So you’re 5’2”, and you were planning on hitting the show at what weight?
DP: Well, at the time, I was hoping to hit it at about 175-180 lbs. I had been training all year and my bodyweight had reached the high 180’s, low 190’s. By the time I tightened down on the diet, cut down on the calories and carbs, I had bottomed out in the mid-170’s.
JM: You seem to have an unusual style of contest prep.
DP: I still believe in the old high protein, low carb diet. I consume as much protein as I can, six to eight pounds of meat a day. I also incorporate a certain amount of aerobics, but it’s usually an aerobic workout where I’m not straining the whole body, you can’t go out there and run seven miles or even jog. I’ll use the stairmaster or a lifecycle. The closer it comes to the show; of course, I’ll cut the carbs down. I was probably on 150 to 200 grams of carbs per day for most of the year. Then about two months before the show I went down to about 100 grams of carbs per day. Three months before the show I decided to use the old Arnold training regimen that we had used when I was out there in California. We worked each bodypart three times a week. Of course they told me, that because I was an old man, it wouldn’t be possible for me to grow on an intense schedule like that. Well, I passed up all the young guns in my gym.
JM: So, let me get this straight. You’re training each body part three times a week on a double-split and you’re still growing?
DP: I was still growing, absolutely. I would just increase the calories. It’s all about calories, you must feed the machine. I would train chest and back in the morning, legs at night. Then I would train shoulders and arms the next morning plus calves and abs then next night. I would start the routine all over again Wednesday. And I grew on it.
JM: Along with how much cardio?
DP: At that time, I was doing 20 minutes exactly. Then about two weeks before the show, I started doing 30 to 40 minutes on the stairmaster and as much as an hour on the lifecycle.
JM: So you missed the Masters Olympia, but you still look great. What’s next for Danny Padilla?
DP: Well, Danny Padilla is pissed-off. He paid $175 for a pro card, so that means I’m a pro again. I’m thinking about possibly entering an open show to see how good these young guys really are. I’m a little crazy right now.
JM: Let me get this straight. You’re 50 years old, is that correct?
DP: That’s correct.
JM: And you’re looking to enter a men’s open IFBB show?
DP: I’m looking into a show right now and there’s a very strong possibility that I will end up competing.
JM: Realistically, how do feel you could do against today’s pros?
DP: Well, against the top Olympia contenders, I would be crazy to say that I could kick ass. But, against some of these guys that enter the Night of Champions, most of the time they come in out of condition, too heavy, not prepared, I think I could whip some of these guys.
JM: Specifically who?
DP: Specifically who? Well, there are a lot of guys I think I could whip. Hey, I don’t even know half the names of these guys anymore, I don’t even open the magazines, but I was looking at some of the top contenders at the Toronto show last March, I didn’t know who half these guys were, but I knew I could whip some of these guys. They look terrible.
JM: What weight do you think you could come in at 50 years of age?
DP: At 50 years of age, I think I could hit a good 220 lbs, rock-hard, shredded.
JM: That would put you up there with Lee Priest.
DP: Well, Lee Priest is in tremendous shape. To this day, I can’t understand why he doesn’t place higher. It’s like attack on the short guys. The guy’s phenomenal. He’s got huge arms, huge everything. I think with his physique, it’s almost complete, doesn’t really lack anything. I look at these taller guys; I’m seeing bits and pieces. I mean, they’re huge, but to me, Lee Priest is just much more balanced than those guys. For whatever reason, he just doesn’t get a higher placing.
JM: Obviously you come from a time period where aesthetics were valued over pure size.
JM: Do you feel you can be competitive in an era where size is king? Where a premium is placed on overall mass and aesthetics fall by the wayside?
DP: You have to remember that in the era that I came from I was called the Giant Killer. The reason for that is because I had both the aesthetics as well as a lot of mass for a little guy. You could never tell my height until you put a big guy next to me because my body was so complete and I was also so thick. I had a lot of muscle density. Now, for myself, with all the new supplements out there, I’m pretty sure that I can play catch up. I’d probably hurt a lot of feelings.
JM: What’s your favorite Arnold story that you can tell me?
DP: That’s tough; because I’ve got a lot of stories that I can’t tell you. One time, when we were all at the gym working out . . . Arnold told it one way in Pumping Iron . . . but I’m going to tell you how it really happened. This guy came in; I believe he was from Canada. Arnold was training for the Olympia and I was training for the Universe. This guy came in and said, “Where’s Arnold Schwarzenegger? I’ve come to beat Arnold, I’m going to be the replacement for Arnold.” So we looked at this guy, he was tall and lanky with more hair than muscle, but he was going to be Arnold’s replacement? So then, of course, Arnold sent us to get this special muscle oil, because he wanted to see this guy pose, and he told the guy, “I have to see how you look”. So, the guy took his clothes off and Arnold told us to give the special muscle oil to this guy. All I could find was transmission fluid. So, we gave it to Arnold He poured it on the guy, he put it all on, and Arnold said, “Now pose. Do you feel bigger?” And the guy was swearing that he felt bigger, he could feel the stuff working. So Arnold asked the guy to show us his posing routine, and as the guy posed, Arnold told him that it was almost perfect, but that as he hit the most muscular pose, he should scream. So, here was this guy posing, all of a sudden you would hear this loud scream. Everyone in the old Gold’s Gym was wondering what the hell was going on, they didn’t know if we’d killed the guy or what. Here was this guy screaming at the top of his lungs, and Arnold was screaming right back at him, “Incredible, beautiful, you are the man, you are what we’re looking for. You must go see Joe Weider now!” So he sent the guy out to Joe Weider’s office. He ran up the stairs, went into Joe’s office and jumped on his desk. He started posing and while he hit his most muscular, he started screaming. Joe threw the guy out of his office and called Arnold and me to tell us we were fired because he knew it had to be us that were behind the whole escapade.
JM: That’s hilarious. What’s your current weight?
DP: My weight at this point is 184 lbs.
JM: And I’m told you put on muscle fairly easily.
DP: I train, I grow.
JM: What can we expect from Danny Padilla in three months?
DP: In three months I’ll be over 200 pounds. This is serious for me now. I’ve got a point to prove. I got bumped out of the Masters because I was a cheapskate and didn’t want to pay for a pro card. And when I finally paid for my pro card, they didn’t have the courtesy to let me know if I could still compete. So now that I have my pro card, I’ve decided I’m going to compete with the big boys. What’s the worst that could happen?
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